Are you afraid that the prescription as prescribed by your doctor is only making him or her money. Forget it! It is not a major factor in his choice of medicines. Your health is.

As a retired pharmacist I have more than a cursory interest in pharmaceuticals, and how they are promoted to prescribing physicians. Recently I read an article in the National Post http://news.nationalpost.com on the internet that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario planned to ban doctors from accepting almost any gift from a pharmaceutical company. What a waste of time, not worth the effort and nearly impossible to supervise. Arthur Schafer, a prominent ethics professor at the University of Manitoba  charged that the effort is a whitewash of the practice. It is practically impossible to completely separate the personal interests of the physician, his or her dislikes, from the best interests of the patient? No physician would prescribe a product that would harm the patient. Under the new rules the physician can accept free lunches, drug samples, as well as speaking and consulting fees for educational events. As far as free samples go, if the physician has no use for the odd sample, there is no reason not to exchange the samples for drugs the physician uses to give to patients. This happens anyway in many cases and cannot be stopped, ethics or no ethics. It is a waste to throw out drugs that are not used by the prescribing physician. 

Let me be perfectly clear, pharmaceutical companies are in business and will do what ever is necessary to sell their drugs. They are not angels. Changing results of laboratory tests to sell drugs must be outlawed, and ghost writing of clinical trials or laboratory tests is an absolute no, no. Expensive jaunts with no educational component should not be allowed, but physicians going to exotic places for educational lectures have to be accepted as part of the commercial game of selling medical devices and drugs. Doctors have interests, and the college has to have confidence that the complete best interests of the patient are never compromised.

Name of author

Name: Murray Rubin

Short Bio: I was born in Toronto in 1931 to a wonderful mother who divorced shortly before my birth. I owe a great deal of my success to her. I am Jewish but not at all religious, yet my culture plays an important part of my personality. I attended Harbord Collegiate and U. of T. Faculty of Pharmacy. A unique mail-order pharmacy was the first of my endeavours in the profession, followed by many stores throughout Ontario. I have a loving wife, 3 children and grand-children and I am now retired from pharmacy. But what do I write about? Everything! My topics are funny, serious, whimsical, timely, outrageous, inspiring, and inventive. I promise that if you take the time to read any one of these topics – you will not be sorry.

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